Cairns rental prices rise by $25 per week over past month
AVERAGE house rentals in Cairns have increased by $25 a week and are likely to rise even more as the accommodation squeeze worsens, forcing more people to live in caravans or couch-surf as they wait for affordable properties.
The latest CairnsWatch snapshot also shows unit rentals rose by $15 a week in the year ending September, an increase also attributed to the shortage of lease properties.
The release of the report comes as property managers say people are living at caravan parks because they are struggling to find rentals.
"We're still getting population growth, even though it's slower than normal, and there is a very finite supply of housing," Herron Todd White director Rick Carr, who authors the monthly report, said.
"Empty-nesters are still coming up from Sydney and Melbourne and other places for lifestyle reasons."
The survey shows the city's vacancy rate for houses was 1.7 per cent, while just 2.9 per cent of units were available for lease.
The average house jumped from $325 a week to $350 in the year ending September. Units increased from $240 to $255.
The rental squeeze has pushed more tenants -- mainly youths, single mothers and separated middle-aged people -- to seek help from welfare agencies such as The Salvation Army and OzCare.
Salvation Army Lieutenant Darren Kingston said: "It seems that we are getting busier and busier with people seeking accommodation.
"People have moved up here and found they haven't been able to afford mortgage repayments or the increase in rents. We're getting people in our welfare centre saying it's just too hard."
Lt Kingston said people stranded between homes often resorted to sleeping on couches at friends' homes.
Elders Real Estate Cairns senior property manager Tegan Hicks said securing a rental was highly competitive.
"We cannot keep up with the demand for houses to rent at present," she said.
"Units, if they are presented well and priced right, will rent quickly. Some tenants are living in caravan parks because they cannot find suitable rental properties."
Mr Carr said the property shortage appeared likely to continue over the next year.
The report shows only a slight increase in housing approvals last month.
"There haven't been any unit developments approved for a very long time," he said.
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